Kate Warner, Rob Brown
Approximately 64% of Maine’s drinking water comes from 46 lakes across the state, with 11 of these lakes exempt from filtration due to high water quality. This high quality, however, is threatened by a rapidly changing climate. The Northeast has experienced a 60-70% increase in extreme precipitation events since 1950. Recent research suggests that during extreme wet years, concentrations of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) increase in lakes. Extreme precipitation events and subsequent increases in DOC pose threats to Maine’s drinking water quality and water treatment processes. At present, the extent to which changing precipitation is altering the chemistry and subsequently the biota of Maine’s lakes is unclear, and little is known about the economic costs associated with these potential changes in water quality.
We are working with many water districts around the state of Maine as well as the Maine Center for Disease Control to better understand how a changing climate is altering drinking water quality.